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Gulf oil spill could push Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe to the point of no return

A French-speaking tribe, isolated in the Louisiana bayous for more than a century, grows anxious as the latest threat reaches its marshland.

So on Tuesday, about half of the tribe's men crowded into the Live Oak Baptist Church for a required training class. But the lesson, supposed to start at 9 a.m., was delayed for two sweaty hours.

Computer problem, somebody said. It was a lesson in the control they had already lost.

Up the road, in their house on stilts, father and daughter Sidney Verdin and Grace Welch had already found ways of dealing with the outside world's latest insult. Verdin had settled on spite.

"The oil that is coming out, I'm glad to see that," he said, because it meant an oil company would suffer. "I hope it comes out for two years."

Across the room, Welch has a 5-year-old son and an education that stopped in the 11th grade. She knows a lot about the marshes around here: Shrimp swim low during the day, so you've got to wait a few seconds after tossing out the net, and let it sink.

But she doesn't really know how to do anything else. And, she said, she hadn't seen any oil in the particular spots she sets her traps.

"I went crabbing anyway," she said, despite the ban.


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